The Royal Commission into Family Violence found that universal services often lack the knowledge and expertise to identify and respond when people are experiencing family violence. Victims who are seeking help will often have regular and extended contact with universal services, so these workforces are crucial in the response to family violence. Lack of knowledge within universal systems [services] was identified as one of 11 system limitations:
Key personnel in universal systems, such as health services and schools, are not adequately equipped to recognise that family violence may be occurring and often do not know what to do when it is identified.
Consistent with this, the Royal Commission made a series of recommendations that aimed to increase the capacity of universal services to be able to identify and respond to family violence.1 These recommendations included:
- whole-of-workforce training for priority sectors – including GPs and hospital workers – that takes into account and aligns with their roles and standards of practice
- secondary consultation services to be provided to universal or non–family violence services by advanced family violence practitioner positions at Support and Safety Hubs (now known as The Orange Door network), and in the interim for specialist family violence services to be provided with additional resources so they can provide more secondary consultations to universal services
- public hospitals to be resourced to implement a whole-of-hospital model for responding to family violence, drawing on evaluated approaches in Victoria and elsewhere
- routine screening for family violence in all public antenatal settings
- engagement with specialists to ensure appropriate responses to diverse cohorts.
Since then, government’s approach to implementing these recommendations has been laid out through several government plans, commitments and legislation. For example:
- The Family Violence Protection Act 2008 and Family Violence Protection (Information Sharing and Risk Management) Regulations 2018 provided the legislative basis for MARAM and the Family Violence Information Sharing Scheme.
- Ending Family Violence: Victoria’s Plan for Change includes a long-term target that ‘workers in universal services will feel confident to identify and respond to all forms of family violence’ and references the industry plan (see below), which focuses on widespread family violence capability building.
- Building From Strength: 10-Year Industry Plan for Family Violence Prevention and Response includes as an immediate action to fund ‘the development and delivery of training to meet immediate upskilling needs. This may include training across workforces (for example, in working with perpetrators) or training that targets specific workforces with a role to play in the delivery of family violence reforms, such as … maternal and child health nurses, or early childhood educators.’
- Family Violence Reform Rolling Action Plan 2020–2023 committed to the second phase of MARAM and information sharing commencing in April 2021, which expanded the scope to a further 5,800 organisations that cover 370,000 professionals, meaning that workers in settings such as ‘primary and secondary schools … public health services and hospitals … will use MARAM as part of their work’. The rolling action plan captured the introduction of accredited MARAM training in identifying and responding to family violence designed for a range of workforces that intersect with family violence. It also acknowledged that universal services have an important role in supporting perpetrator accountability – a priority in the rolling action plan – with opportunities to identify, respond and refer people using violence.
The MARAM Framework was released in 2018. Principle 2 of the framework is that ‘professionals should work collaboratively to provide coordinated and effective risk assessment and management responses, including early intervention when family violence first occurs to avoid escalation into crisis and additional harm’. It also emphasises that ‘universal services have important roles across the spectrum of family violence early intervention, risk assessment and management’. Organisations in scope for this report that have been prescribed to use MARAM and information sharing are listed in Table 1.
Table 1: Health and education organisations referenced in this report that are prescribed under MARAM and information sharing legislation
Note: For a full list of prescribed organisations, refer to the Victorian Government’s website.
Departments are implementing MARAM together with the Family Violence Information Sharing Scheme and Child Information Sharing Scheme as a suite of interrelated reforms that work to reduce family violence and promote child wellbeing and safety. Substantial funding has been directed to these reforms, including an allocation of $97 million over four years through the 2020–21 State Budget for the continued implementation of the reforms across all prescribed workforces. The funding is designed to ‘meet the continued demand for training, change management support and information sharing from government as part of implementing the Family Violence and Child Information Sharing Schemes and MARAM, including to universal health and education workforces recently brought into these reforms under Phase 2’. A depiction of how this funding has been allocated is provided at Figure 2.
Additionally, The Orange Door network, which will be established in all 17 Department of Families, Fairness and Housing regions in Victoria by the end of 2022, is designed to be a clear point of contact for referrals and secondary consultations.
- We identified 11 main recommendations that directly relate to this topic: 3, 37, 95, 96, 100, 102, 103, 139, 207, 211, 212
- We understand that GPs were unable to be prescribed under MARAM because extensive sector consultation suggested they would need to be prescribed as individuals, and individuals cannot be prescribed under MARAM.